Inspiration can hit anytime, anywhere, and it usually comes at some of the most inopportune moments. These include when you’re lying back trying to sleep, when you’re fixing breakfast or dinner or lunch, when you’re brushing your teeth or washing your hair or taking a shower, when you are driving to work or the store or the doctor’s office, and a multitude of other times. In most of these instances you are unable to do much about it except to jot down a few notes that you hope will make sense when you read them later. In a few of these occasions, you can’t even do that.
The worst time, though, for such an inspiration to hit is when you are smack dab in the middle of your latest WIP (work in progress) – a novel, poem, or story on which you have been working for some time. If you are nearing the end, that inspirational interruption can be even more annoying. What to do? Option One: Stop writing that WIP and starting working on developing that inspiration. Option Two: Make detailed notes and hope you can pick it up later when you have finished that first project.
When a recent inspiration hit me, I chose Option One. In a week I had 27,000+ words done toward a goal of 75,000 for what is basically a light-hearted Christmas romance story. It seemed to come flowing out. Then, the writing came to a screeching halt as I seemed to be in need of some better direction for how to get to my goal (in these stories, the guy and gal always have to end up together). A day spent reviewing what I had written got me back on track, and the next day was spent doing some rewriting and editing to get rid of various inconsistencies and repetitiveness. Now, I am at 32,000+ words and humming along toward my goal again.
My posts about this on my Writing Group and other writing groups on MeWe elicited some interesting responses:
“That’s outstanding! Hat’s off to you and your hubby. I am editing the fourth book in my series and doing a side project for NaNoWriMo. Both are going nice and steady. Good things! … Sometimes you have to do some planning. I plan all the time. Sometimes I plan too much. But I can’t just wing it forever either. I have to have direction.” — Parker McCoy (two comments posted separately but joined together here)
“Never stop writing. Bursts are rare for me, so I run with it.” — Scott Slotterbeck
“I keep another writing project going in addition to my main WIP so I have somewhere to go when inspiration fades. It keeps me writing and sometimes I problem-solve in one that transfers to the other.” — Paul Piatt
“I do the same thing. It’s helped me stay productive during those slow moments in the other WIP.” — Ruth Nordin (replying to Paul’s comment above)
“I have a MS 70,000 word strong and stared a new one for NaNoWriMo, now almost 17,000. I totally get this! … I waffled on starting something else. Write often, write well, write on!” — Kaci Rigney
The big question for me, and for you if you have similarly gotten veered onto a side project by a thunderbolt idea that seized your brain, is “Can I return to my WIP and pick up where I left off?”
My brain never left that first WIP. Memories of what I have written on it so far as well as new ideas keep rattling around inside even as I work out the pathway to my heroine and hero getting together at the end without too much interference from the sub-characters, including old boyfriends, a female housemate who has overstayed her welcome, a mother who thinks she is being helpful, and a best friend trying to steal the hero away for herself.
Don’t be afraid to pursue that new inspiration while keeping your WIP fresh in mind. Lots of writers seem to do it.
Hope you found this helpful and have been inspired to start and/or continue writing!
Please check out my WIPs. And thanks for reading.
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